“The key to going into Thanksgiving fearless is knowing that the people you’ve invited love you,” says Chef Emily Peterson. She’s right. But that doesn’t mean we want to go into the holiday winging it. That’s why we had her do two Facebook Live sessions to show off cauliflower recipes and how to make a lattice pie crust (below), all while sharing some wisdom. Here, we gathered together a few tips that are easy to remember and sure to make everything go more smoothly.
1. Be pragmatic and set yourself up for success.
You want Thanksgiving to be about family, not food. “People love the music, the togetherness,” not the fancy dishes.
2. No one ever complains about too much cheese.
That’s just a fact, so when making her cauliflower gratin, don’t stress the measurements.
3. Think about the youngest and oldest person who are eating.
This is how to guide chopping and spicing decisions: don’t go too big, or too small; don’t use too much spice if kiddies are coming.
4. Designate two side towels to be your pot holders.
Don’t get these kitchen towels wet and have them at hand for taking hot dishes out of the oven. (Chances are good you’ll need more pot holders on Thanksgiving than you usually have!)
5. Mind the milk on the stove.
Milk goes from warm to boiling very quickly and can make a mess. Keep an eye on it.
6. Rinse salt-packed capers before using them.
Or else your dish will be super-salty!
7. Don’t buy rolled parchment, if you can help it.
It’s really hard to lay flat once it’s been rolled, so save yourself the frustration.
8. Pie crust is forgiving.
If you keep working with it, even if it’s crumbly, it will come together. “Pie crust can be one of those things that makes you want to cry,” Chef Emily notes, but be patient.
9. When making a lattice crust, a ruler helps.
You want to work with even strips, and the key to good baking is precision.
Most important of all, remember this bit for every day of the year: “It is just food. Enjoy the process.”
The Flakiest Pie Crust
“I owe this recipe to a cookbook called Applehood & Motherpie, which was published by the Junior League of Rochester as a fundraiser in 1981. It was gifted to me after I fell in love with my mother-in-law’s pie crust. It is super crispy, no matter the filling. My husband, a Rochester native, is also a big fan, both for the quality of the crust and the narrative of the perplexingly still in print junior league cookbook.”
Yields 2 10-inch pie crusts
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup vegetable shortening
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons whole milk
1. Blend flour, salt and shortening with a pastry blender.
2. Add liquids and stir to combine.
3. Divide the dough in half and work quickly to pat each half into a disc. Wrap each disc in plastic and chill 15 minutes before rolling out on a floured board or pastry cloth.
(To blind bake this crust, prick all over the surface with a fork and bake at 475ºF for 8-10 minutes.)